Drugged driving fatalities now outnumber drink driving deaths in New Zealand

More fatal road crashes last year involved drugged drivers than drunk drivers, figures obtained by the Automobile Association (AA) reveal.

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Last year, 79 fatal crashes involved a driver with drugs in their system, compared with 70 involving an intoxicated driver.

In 2016, 59 fatal crashes involved a drugged driver and 67 involved alcohol. The figures come from testing that is done by authorities following a fatal crash.

"The AA has called drugged driving a silent killer on our roads for years and these latest figures confirm how prevalent drugs are in fatal crashes," Dylan Thomsen, AA road safety spokesperson, said.

"No one wants someone who is high driving towards their family at 100km/h but right now the chances of being caught drugged driving is tiny. We have to change that."

The association is repeating its call for the introduction of random roadside drugs testing.

Excluding alcohol, the two most commonly detected individual drugs were cannabis and P.

The cases of P being detected had shot up in recent years, and a range of other drugs and medications that impair driving also feature in the results, the AA said.

Dylan Thomsen said saliva-based testing kits should be used. They detect common illict drugs including cannabis, methamphetamine, and ecstasy.

At present police have to have strong cause to suspect drug use and then take the driver to a police station for a 'walk-and-turn' test.

"The current system almost needs a driver to be sitting in the car with drugs on the seat next to them to get tested," Mr Thomsen said.

"The saliva testing devices being used in many other countries would be much faster and allow many more potentially drug impaired drivers to be tested than the current approach."

The AA believes the increase in drugged-driving figures this year is probably due to more thorough testing being done following crashes.

Driving (file picture).
Driving (file picture). Source: istock.com


Wellington sets goal of becoming 'Te Reo Māori' city by 2040

A vision to make Wellington a Te Reo Māori city by 2040 has been unanimously voted in by Wellington City Council.

Mayor Justin Lester stated in Te Tauihu, the council's Te Reo Māori policy, that this is a public statement of it's commitment to revitalising te reo in the capital.

The year set for the goal to be achieved is 200 years since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The policy will see the council give well known areas Māori names, putting a Te Reo Māori focus in community programmes, its website and services, an increase in haka and Te Reo Māori at public events, as well as using the language in committee room meetings.

Te reo will also be recognised as a desirable competency for recruitment of council staff and staff will be given the opportunity to learn te reo.

Councillor Simon Marsh said it's about embracing the country's point of difference, as we do with rugby.

"English is going to remain as the dominant language ... but as a small island nation we need to remember what is important to us," he said.

Council and members of the public gave a mighty pakipaki after the decision was voted in by all council members, before joining in a waiata.

The mayor addressed the Wellington City Council today on the city's 2040 goal. Source: 1 NEWS